Montreal may use SkyTrain technology for Champlain Bridge "LRT"

Montreal may use SkyTrain technology for Champlain Bridge "LRT"

After Côté tribute, council debates Champlain Bridge transit

BY RENÉ BRUEMMER, GAZETTE CIVIC AFFAIRS REPORTER MAY 26, 2014

MONTREAL — The start of Monday’s monthly city council meeting was dedicated to a man who never served as an elected official but whose life left an enduring mark on a city he loved.

After his homage, a large part of the meeting was dedicated to the question of putting a light-rail transit system on the new Champlain Bridge, a topic close to the heart of Marcel Côté. [READ MORE – The Gazette]

In the City of Montreal, City Council is at odds as to what type of transit should complement the replacement of the dangerous Champlain Bridge, which has come under increased scrutiny after the federal government announced its funding.

SEE ALSO: Federal budget promises fix for Montreal’s aging Champlain Bridge, new Windsor-Detroit border crossing – National Post

Montreal’s transit authority is pleading the City Council to vote in favour of a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system on a replacement for the crumbling Champlain Bridge, whereas some stakeholders prefer a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The LRT line, initially meant to provide an alternative transit option for the corridor with no Champlain Bridge replacement, has been in the planning stages since before the need to replace the bridge was identified.

I was reading about this and came across a concept image for the proposed highway median LRT system, on the official website for the proposed line. The yellow-coloured train looks suspiciously like a Mark II SkyTrain vehicle in a 5-car configuration:

CONCEPT IMAGE - Champlain Bridge LRT, taken straight off of the AGENCE MÉTROPOLITAINE DE TRANSPORT website
CONCEPT IMAGE – Champlain Bridge LRT, taken straight off of the AGENCE MÉTROPOLITAINE DE TRANSPORT website

I did some further digging and found that this image is repeated in the preliminary design studies for the light rail transit system, which is comprehensively suggesting that the desired specifications of the new “LRT” line are fully compatible with linear induction motor propulsion (“SkyTrain technology”) and will be using similar rapid transit vehicles.

SEE ALSO: Highway 10/Downtown Montreal Corridor LRT study

This is made evident by a number of items on the project’s list of desired performance criteria on page 32:

• an attractive service operating at a high commercial speed (over 50 km/h) and a high maximum speed (100 km/h);
• a high frequency (intervals less than every 3 minutes at rush hour);
• a high level of safety thanks to guide rails, an exclusive track, automated operating systems and anti-collision devices;

and on page 55:

3.4.1 Operating mode
Automatic train operation has been retained because, among other things, it allows for reduced service intervals and running
times, increased flexibility for adjustments of timetables and intervals, as well as improved safety, better controlled accelerations,
and greater passenger capacity in each train set.

and on page 56:

3.4.7 Car performance requirements
…The design load of the cars (seated passengers + four standees/m2) is 131 passengers per car. Each train will be made of 5
cars and will therefore have a capacity of 655 passengers.

Notice how this is exactly the passenger capacity of a Mark 2 vehicle.

With 80-90m platforms, frequencies less than 3 minutes, 5-car trains, and high-floor cars on a fully grade-separated right-of-way with 6% slopes… almost everything matches. You name it, SkyTrain has it, and Montreal’s Champlain Bridge “LRT” is also going to have it.

Studies have identified that the proposed rapid transit line, which will be fully grade separated, has a positive benefit:cost ratio of 1.11:1. It is 15km long, and advertises a travel time of just 18 minutes from the outbound terminus to Montreal City Centre.

Montreal Champlain LRT recommended alignment
Montreal Champlain LRT recommended alignment – taken from study

Why this matters

You may recall that I recently started a new blogseries called The Problem with SkyTrain critics, which comes at a time when several SkyTrain or other rapid transit expansions are being debated here in Metro Vanouver. One of the problems I have identified with SkyTrain critics (and will be discussing shortly in more articles on the matter) are the numerous dubious claims of SkyTrain’s “obsolescence” – SkyTrain critics claim that the technology, which was developed in the 1980s, no longer has a place in rail rapid transit planning.

SkyTrain criticsdeny SkyTrain’s potential as a high-quality rapid transit system that generates billions of dollars in transportation, developmental and economic benefits. They clutter our blog-feeds, newsletter sections and comments with endlessly varied suggestions to perpetuate the belief that SkyTrain simply isn’t the best option for investment.

SEE ALSO: The Problem with SkyTrain Critics – Denying the Benefits Part I

But, this is the second example I have uncovered as of late that shows that the technology we use in SkyTrain is becoming a serious rail rapid transit option for cities worldwide. In another recent blog article, I brought to light that Kuala Lumpur [SEE HERE] has approved an additional 36km of SkyTrain expansion in addition to the ongoing 17km extension of the Kelana Jaya Line. Other extensions are taking place in Sendai, Japan and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Guangzhou Metro recently opened a new metro line using SkyTrain technology, which already carries over 700,000 passengers daily.

The success of SkyTrain (in particular, the Canada Line) has also inspired the Montreal airports authority to advocate for a light metro-type shuttle to the airport.

SEE ALSO: Montréal-Trudeau Airport Light Rail Shuttle Study
The JFK AirTrain was one of the rapid transit systems mentioned in the Champlain LRT study as a reference, alongside the Millennium Line and Canada Line in Vancouver.
The JFK AirTrain (which uses SkyTrain technology) was one of the rapid transit systems mentioned in the Champlain LRT study as a reference, alongside the Millennium Line and Canada Line in Vancouver.

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

Kuala Lumpur: New 36km SkyTrain line to complement extension

Kuala Lumpur: New 36km SkyTrain line to complement extension

UPDATE – 11th April 2015: SkyTrain technology has been CONFIRMED for the proposed Klang Valley Line.

Today I bring you news from Malaysia! A news release from a few days ago reveals details of a new 36km SkyTrain line to complement an already under-construction 17km extension of the Kelana Jaya line are beginning to surface. The new extension would run from a proposed new transit hub, intersect the Kelana Jaya Line, and then travel through Shah Alam to a terminus at Klang – a city of close to 850,000 people situated 32km west of Kuala Lumpur.

The original regional transportation plan finalized in 2011 [CLICK HERE] proposed that this line would be constructed after 2030; however, a re-examination of the business case in June 2013 has resulted in the project being pushed up to the pre-2020 timeframe. An even newer study focusing specifically on the line details itself has suggested that there are immediate benefits to reap – and with that, the line is now a top priority investment. Construction is likely to begin on the new SkyTrain extension at the beginning of next year, where it will parallel the ongoing extension of the Kelana Jaya Line.

See Also: Greater KL/Klang Valley Urban Rail Development Plan – June 2013 [PDF]

The new plan helps show that the technology we use in SkyTrain is becoming a serious rail rapid transit option for cities worldwide, with expansions of SkyTrain-type lines now well under way in multiple cities – including here in Vancouver, there in Kuala Lumpur, in Sendai, Japan and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Additional details

The “Shah Alam LRT” will be the second SkyTrain-type line in Kuala Lumpur (or the third if the Kelana Jaya Line extension is considered a separate line). The new line will connect directly to the Kelana Jaya Line and may offer a continuous service onto the line. With its completion, Kuala Lumpur’s RapidRail system will eclipse the SkyTrain system in the amount of in-service linear motor trackage, spanning a distance of 82km before 2020 – whereas SkyTrain (lines using linear induction motor tech) will span just 63km after the completion of the Evergreen Line. This will make Kuala Lumpur’s system the second longest linear motor rapid transit system in the world, after the 100km Guangzhou Metro system.

See also: List of Linear Induction Motor rapid transit systems

The new “Shah Alam LRT” line will complement an already in-service commuter rail transit line, similar to how the Evergreen Line will complement the non-stop West Coast Express service in the tri-cities. The rapid transit stock for the new line can be expected to be built by either Bombardier or CSR-Zhuzhou. Bombardier has been a major supplier for the rapid transit cars on the Kelana Jaya Line (ART 200/Mark II trains), while CSR-Zhuzhou has supplied standard rotary-motor rapid transit cars for the Ampang Line (but is also a major supplier of linear motor cars for the Guangzhou Metro system).

About Kuala Lumpur’s “Rapid Rail” system

Kuala Lumpur's integrated rail system. The Kelana Jaya line is in magenta.
Kuala Lumpur’s integrated rail system. The Kelana Jaya line is in magenta.

In case you weren’t initially aware, Kuala Lumpur’s “Rapid Rail” network is like a clone of our SkyTrain system overseas: the system is composed of several grade-separated, automated (driverless) rapid transit lines, many of which use the same linear induction motor propulsion technology and Bombardier Mark II vehicles used on SkyTrain here in Vancouver. The Ampang Line, the first rapid transit line using standard rotary motor technology, was opened in 1996 as the first rapid transit rail line in Kuala Lumpur. This was followed by the 1998 opening of the Kelana Jaya Line, the fully automated linear-motor type line that looks and works exactly like our SkyTrain system. The 29km Kelana Jaya Line is built with both overhead sections and bored tunnel sections through the city core. It is the busiest and most popular rapid transit line in metropolitan Kuala Lumpur with 160,000 riders daily [1], and was for a long time the only rapid transit service in the Klang Valley metropolis that broke even (revenues paid for operations costs) until the Ampang Line, which had historically fallen a few thousand riders short from breaking even [1][2], was equipped with the Thales SelTrac system to itself become fully automated (driverless) [3]. Both lines are currently receiving extensions that are due to open at around the same year the Evergreen Line is opened here in Vanouver. The extensions are shown in the above map (note the unnamed stations near the bottom). Kuala Lumpur’s Rapid Rail system has been immensely successful since its opening, being major money generators for the regional rapid transit system and the biggest drivers of ridership and high-density development. SkyTrain technology has helped the fares on RapidKL’s rapid transit lines remain completely unchanged for 10 years [4], and continue to remain the same (so far) through power tariff increases for the operating company, mainly because of increasing ridership [5]. The rapid transit lines are considered the “key revenue-generator contributor” for Prasarana, the regional transportation authority if the Klang Valley [6]

Sources/footnotes
  1. Passenger numbers from Urban Rail Development Study, page 19 [LINK]
  2. The Ampang Line breaks even at 170,000 riders daily, according to Malaysian Business (article “Red Flags” from 16 June, 2000 issue – not available online) – most recent recorded ridership was 141,000 daily
  3. The Kelana Jaya Line has been automated from start of service; the Ampang Line was refitted with the Thales SelTrac system in 2012 [SEE HERE]
  4. LRT, Monorail fares to go up next year – Astro Awani report [LINK]
  5. Prasarana Power Cost Up 17% since Jan 1 – The Edge Malaysia [LINK]
  6. Description page on Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd [LINK]
Featured image: Kelana Jaya Line train approaches station. CC-BY Flickr - @withcuriosity
Featured image: Kelana Jaya Line train approaches station. CC-BY Flickr – @withcuriosity

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

Guangzhou opens world's newest SkyTrain technology line

Guangzhou opens world's newest SkyTrain technology line

I recently updated my List of Linear Induction Motor rapid transit systems [LINK] list to reflect the opening of Guangzhou Metro’s Line 6 – the world’s newest “SkyTrain technology” line, adding 25km of linear motor trackage to Guangzhou’s Metro system. The opening was met with a celebration last week.

SEE LINK: Guangzhou Metro Line 6 opened on December 28

SEE NEWS VIDEO (in Chinese):

The new line is expected to carry 700,000 passengers daily (about twice as much as our SkyTrain system carries) in the first month – making it one of the world’s busiest applications of SkyTrain technology on a rapid transit line. Guangzhou now has 100km of active linear motor rapid transit track – twice the length that Vancouver has on our SkyTrain system. Line 6 has both above-ground sections and tunnel sections; the latter in particular takes advantage of the low-height of linear motor cars, which enables smaller tunnels and cost savings.

Line 6 is very unique among the Guangzhou Metro Lines in that it has the most stations, the most passenger amenities, and offers the most frequent service of any Guangzhou Metro line. Basically, Guangzhou has chosen to build the most important subway line in the city with SkyTrain technology.

Guangzhou Metro ordered almost 200 linear motor rapid transit cars from Itochu and China’s CSR Sifang for Line 6. [SEE LINK]

A recent Vancouver Sun piece [LINK HERE] that I’m planning to send commentary on took note on the apparent obsolescence of “25-year-old SkyTrain technology”. The opening of this new line in Guangzhou, which is a high-capacity application, shows that this is far from true. In fact, there’s new research going on in India [LINK] at the Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University) Varanasi to make it the fourth country to offer a “SkyTrain technology” product – after Canada, Japan and China.

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

Toronto rapid transit review recommends SkyTrain expansion over LRT

Toronto rapid transit review recommends SkyTrain expansion over LRT
Scarborough RT
A Scarborough RT train in Toronto boards passengers. The Scarborough RT uses the same propulsion technology as Vancouver’s SkyTrain system, using a fleet of Mark I cars.

Looks like my calls are being echoed in the City of Toronto. Someone out there is seriously listening to me, for I had previously proposed the very idea this think tank is proposing through Better Surrey Rapid Transit (SkyTrain for Surrey), in an attempt to communicate to people that SkyTrain expansion can make sense.

I have been pushing for quite some years now for a SkyTrain expansion in my home city (Surrey) over the current Light Rail expansion plan on account of SkyTrain making a lot more sense (most of you reading probably know this of me). As part of that, I went ahead and applied some of my thinking onto Toronto’s transit proposals in a special article I wrote regarding the under-construction Eglinton Crosstown Line. I published that write-up more than 1.5 years ago, in March 2012.

The use of [SkyTrain technology] would provide the same cost savings that moving a portion of the LRT at-grade would and more, despite a need for complete grade separation.  It would provide faster, more reliable service and be more flexible in capacity expansion, and also remove the travel time penalty associated with at-grade LRT.
[READ MORE – “The Compromise is SkyTrain – Toronto should be pursuing this technology and not LRT on Eglinton” on SkyTrain for Surrey]

I supposed that using linear motor-propulsion “ALRT” (also known by some critics here as “SkyTrain technology”) would cut down on the Eglinton Crosstown Line’s tunnel size and tunneling costs (the LRT is being built with a 6.5m diameter tunnel, whereas SkyTrain technology requires just a 5.3m diameter tunnel), saving billions and billions of dollars, and opening up the room for grade-separating the rest of the line and providing better service throughout, increasing ridership numbers and improving the business case. The Crosstown Line is currently being built for at-grade LRT technology, assuming that further expansions would be at-grade.

A map of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in contrast to Toronto's current rapid transit system
A map of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in contrast to Toronto’s current rapid transit system

The Neptis Foundation yesterday submitted a very bold critique of the Metrolinx “Big Move” plan that seems to agree with a lot of my previous propositions. The 144-page study recommends a different Toronto rapid transit plan than the one being recommended by Metrolinx. It thinks in the same way I have thought, in that leveraging the Scarborough RT’s ALRT/SkyTrain technology and extending it would make more financial and practical sense than the current proposal to build LRT.

Business case of LRT proposals vs. study's SkyTrain proposal [CLICK TO ENLARGE]
Neither Metrolinx nor TTC seems to have given serious consideration to development of Scarborough and Eglinton Crosstown lines using ALRT or similar “light metro” technology. This technology has been applied very successfully in more than 20 cities around the world. 89 Some architects and urban designers prefer surface LRT, because it is less visually intrusive, and can run in mixed traffic and pedestrian environments, albeit at much lower speeds. But faster services on exclusive rights-of-way are far more effective, and efficient, at getting motorists to switch to transit.
The Toronto LRT schemes could be greatly improved by building them with fully exclusive rights of way, perhaps automated ALRT or similar technology. Ridership would be much higher, as would the benefits to the region. And the costs could actually be less.
[READ THE FULL REPORT – CLICK HERE]

The author, a UK-based railway consultant, is calling for the full package: a switch of the Eglinton LRT line to a SkyTrain-technology ALRT line with driverless train automation, grade-separation of the full line (including Phase II) to offer faster journeys, and shorter station platforms (appropriate given higher train frequency). He cites that such a setup would generate more than twice the benefits and cost half as much per new daily transit rider. This is based largely on the basis that as a faster SkyTrain-type line it could provide better service and attract more ridership, which is very sound. It isn’t rocket science: when compared against light rail transit systems throughout North America, our 68km SkyTrain system here in Metro Vancouver is outperforming all of them in ridership numbers. There is value in better rapid transit service.

Here is one excellent question I would like to highlight: the study questions a proposal to refurbish the existing Scarborough RT line (a 1980s-era SkyTrain technology line traversing eastern Toronto), noting that the costs to refurbish the RT line to use LRT technology are higher per kilometre than the from-scratch SkyTrain construction costs for the Evergreen Line in Vancouver:

At $1.8 billion for 10 km, the Scarborough LRT line would be considerably more expensive than the Sheppard Line, 68 or about $180 million per km. About half the cost is for conversion of the existing 6.5-km RT to accommodate low-floor LRT cars, with overhead power collection. This involves substantial reconstruction of six intermediate stations, and complete reconstruction of Kennedy Station to provide a larger underground loop, and track connection with the Eglinton LRT so TTC can exchange cars for maintenance purposes (but not for through-running with passengers). The balance is for construction of 4 km of new line, mostly elevated, from McCowan to Sheppard Avenue.
Note that at $180 million per km, the cost per km for the Scarborough RT is about 30% higher than the cost of the Evergreen Line, a fully grade-separated ALRT line in Vancouver, even though the Scarborough line uses mostly existing infrastructure, and otherwise operates through a broadly similar corridor.
Concept: Douglas-Lafarge Lake SkyTrain Station on the Evergreen Line SkyTrain
Concept: Douglas-Lafarge Lake Station on the Evergreen Line SkyTrain

The study recommends building on SkyTrain technology on account of finding that the LRT proposals in Transit City and following plans had low (or negative) benefit:cost ratios, in exactly the same manner as I am recommending SkyTrain technology in Surrey based on a negative benefit:cost ratio for LRT – and does a great job at making a case for it, addressing issues raised with capacity and size of rolling stock, among other things.

The author officially proposes the “Scarborough Wye” concept, for 3 rapid transit lines using SkyTrain technology: the existing Scarborough RT with renewed infrastructure, its extension to Malvern Centre, and a new line from Scarborough Centre to North York via an elevated right-of-way in the centre of the 401 Freeway and down the existing Sheppard Subway tunnels. He makes the case that the whole concept could be built for an outstandingly low cost per new transit rider and a high benefit-cost ratio – better than any of the LRT proposals that have gone through thus far.

Scarborough Wye proposal from Toronto transit plan critique; CLICK TO ENLARGE
Scarborough Wye proposal from Toronto transit plan critique; CLICK TO ENLARGE

We can only wonder if the common sense overflowing from this study could possibly prevail in the upcoming decisions at TTC and Metrolinx, and I hope something moves forward because it does look like SkyTrain technology is the solution for providing a lot of high quality transit. I think it would send a good message across Canada and to Metro Vancouver’s decision-makers and planning authorities as well.

More on Michael Schabas, the study author

Michael Schabas is a UK-based railway consultant who has been involved in launching several new railway projects and businesses.

With a background in urban rail projects in the Canada and the United States, he came to London in 1988 as Vice President for Transport for Olympia & York (O&Y), who were developing the Canary Wharf project in London Docklands. He led O&Y’s involvement in planning and promotion of the Jubilee Line Extension, and also instigated the re-signalling and re-engineering of the Docklands Light Railway.

Between 1981-1986, he worked for the UTDC (Urban Transportation Development Corporation) and was involved in the early development of the automated rapid transit technology used in Vancouver’s SkyTrain system.

Source: Wikipedia; Also see: his website

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

The iPhone 5C is not a "budget" iPhone.

The iPhone 5C is not a "budget" iPhone.
Worldwide Marketing Senior Vice President Phil Schiller stands in front of iPhone 5Cs at the recent Apple unveiling event; Photo: CC BY-SA Globovisión
Worldwide Marketing Senior Vice President Phil Schiller stands in front of iPhone 5Cs at the recent Apple unveiling event; Photo: CC BY-SA Globovisión

The new iPhone 5C is not a budget iPhone.

It’s a smart move by Apple of keeping their profit margins higher, as it costs less for them to produce a 5C and offer it at the last-gen price, than to lower the original iPhone 5’s price to a last-gen price.

With an unlocked minimum cost of $550 in the United Staes, at least one India news source is complaining [LINK HERE] that this is not an affordable smartphone for emerging markets. It is far from that. EDIT: Tech blog Engadget [LINK HERE] has also brought light to this.

By comparison, the new and high-end Moto X smartphone by Motorola – which is, unlike the Chinese-manufactured iPhone 5C (which is already the subject of at least one labour scandal [LINK HERE]) is completely built in the U.S.A. with the most ethical practices, costs $575 unlocked – just $25 more. Motorola is preparing an even lower-cost Moto X that will completely undercut the iPhone 5C despite more ethical manufacturing.

Here’s a graphic from Engadget:

iPhone 5C vs. Motorola Moto X - from Engadget
iPhone 5C vs. Motorola Moto X – from Engadget

And, thus, by concept the iPhone 5C we have come to expect is a massive failure.

It’s just another attempt by the world’s greediest and most irresponsible corporation to fool people (by way of marketing) into giving them lots of money, through exceptionally high profit margins, that they will stow away and rarely if ever use.

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

List of Linear Induction Motor train lines

A concise list of all current and future rapid transit lines using linear induction motor propulsion technology. There are over 20 in-service or proposed systems across 15 cities/metro areas.

Less significant installations (i.e. non-urban rail) are not included. The list is sorted by system length.

Guangzhou Metro

Guangzhou Metro Line 5

System length: 260.3km (99.9km linear motor track) – Future 130km linear motor track
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– CSR-Sifang/ITOCHU EMU, Bombardier BM-300 bogies (Line 4, 120 cars in 4-car service)
– CSR-Sifang/ITOCHU EMU, Bombardier BM-300 bogies (Line 5, 180 cars in 6-car service)
– CSR-Sifang/ITOCHU EMU, SDB-LIM bogies by CSR-Sifang (Line 5, 192 cars in 6-car service)
– CSR-Sifang /ITOCHU EMU, Bombardier FLEXX Metro 2000 bogies (Line 6, 196 cars in 4-car service)
Systems with LIM propulsion:
– Line 4 (2005) 43.7km / daily ridership: 300,070
– Line 5 (2009) 31.9km / daily ridership: 985,500
Line 6 (2013) 24.3km / daily ridership: 612,300
– Line 4 south ext. (opening 2016) 12.5km
Line 6 east ext. (opening 2016) 17.6km
Train control: Automated (SIEMENS system) with backup driver

Vancouver SkyTrain

2-car SkyTrain approaches Brentwood Station on the Millennium Line

System length: 68.6km (49km linear motor track) – Future 61km linear motor track
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– ICTS Mark I (150 cars, 75 “married pairs”)
– Bombardier ART 200 (108 cars, 54 “married pairs”)
– Bombardier INNOVIA Metro 300 (28 cars, 7 4-car consists)
Systems with LIM propulsion:
Expo Line (1986) 28.9km
– Millennium Line (2002) 20.1km
Evergreen Extension (opens 2017) 11km
Train control: Fully automated (Thales SELTRAC)

Okinawa Island Railway

Okinawa Railway System - Urban elevated railway station concept

System length: 69km
Announced: November 2014
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– FUTURE: 4-car consists
Train control: Unannounced automated system

Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway

Toei Oedo Subway

System length: 109.1km (40.7km linear motor track)
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– Nippon Sharyo/Hitachi 12-000 series EMU (440 cars, 55 8-car consists)
– Kawasaki Heavy Industries 12-600 series EMU
Systems with LIM propulsion:
Toei Subway Ōedo Line (1991) 40.7km; daily ridership: 795,461
Metro 7/Eight Liner (FUTURE) 59.7km
Train control: Automated with backup driver

RapidKL Rail (Kuala Lumpur)

Kelana Jaya Line

System length: 64.6km (29km linear motor track) – Future 82km linear motor track
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– Bombardier ART 200 (70 cars, 35 “married pairs”)
– Bombardier ART 200 order 2 (140 cars, 35 4-car consists)
– Bombardier INNOVIA Metro 300 (56 cars, 14 4-car consists)
Systems with LIM propulsion:
Kelana Jaya Line (1998) 29km (17km extension opening June 30, 2016)
“LRT3” Klang Valley Line (UNDER CONSTRUCTION; 2020) 36km
Train control: Fully automated (Thales SELTRAC)

Beijing Subway

Beijing Airport Express

System length: 456km (28.1km linear motor track)
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– Bombardier/Changchun Railway Vehicles ART 200 (40 cars, 10 “Married pairs”)
Systems with LIM propulsion:
– Airport Express (2008) 28.1km
Train control: Automated with backup driver (Alstom CBTC)

Osaka Municipal Subway

Osaka Subway LIM rolling stock

System length: 129.9km (26.9km linear motor track)
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– Kawasaki/Kinki Sharyo 70 series EMU
– Kawasaki/Kinki Sharyo 80 series EMU
Systems with LIM propulsion:
– Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line (1990) 15km
– Imazatosuji Line (2006) 11.9km
Train control: Automated with backup driver

EverLine Rapid Transit System (Yongin, Korea)

Yongin EverLine

System length: 18.143km
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– Bombardier ART 200 (30 cars)
Train control: Fully automated (Bombardier CityFLO 650)

Sendai Subway

Crews oversee a train on powered tracks with linear motor reaction rails installed.

System length: 28.7 km (14 km linear motor track)
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– Kinki Sharyo 2000 series EMU (60 cars, 15 consists)
Systems with LIM propulsion:
Tozai Line (OPENED Dec 6, 2015) 13.9km

Yokohama Municipal Subway

Yokohama Subway LIM train

System length: 53.4km (13km linear motor track)
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– Kawasaki 10000 series EMU
Lines with LIM Propulsion:
– Green Line (2008) 13km
Train control: Automated with backup driver

Fukuoka City Subway

Fukuoka Subway

System length: 29.8km (12km linear motor track)
Linear propulsion rolling stock:

– Hitachi 3000 series EMU (68 cars, 17 consists)
Systems with LIM Propulsion:
– Nanakuma Line (2005) 12km (1.6km extension to Hakata opening 2020)
Train control: Automated with attendant

AirTrain JFK (New York)

AirTrain JFK

System length: 13km
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– Bombardier ART 200 (32 cars)
Systems with LIM Propulsion:
– Current AirTrain system (2002) 13km
Lower Manhattan – Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project via Long Island Rail Road track-sharing (FUTURE)
Train control: Fully automated (Thales SELTRAC)

Kobe Municipal Subway

Kobe Subway

System length: 40.4km (7.9km linear motor track)
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– 5000 series EMU
Systems with LIM propulsion:
– Kaigan Line (2001) 7.9km
Train control: Automated with backup driver

Toronto Subway and RT

Scarborough RT

System length: 68.3km (6.4km linear motor track)
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– ICTS Mark I (62 cars, 31 “married pairs”)
Systems with LIM Propulsion:
– Scarborough RT (1985) 6.4km
Train control: Driver-controlled with partial automation

Detroit People Mover

detroit20people20mover

System length: 4.7km
Linear propulsion rolling stock:
– ICTS Mark I (12 cars, 6 “married pairs”)
Train control: Fully automated (Thales SELTRAC)

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

The business case for SkyTrain faregates and Compass

The business case for SkyTrain faregates and Compass

It looks like at least one newspaper editor in the Lower Mainland is not doing his or her research. In particular, the South Delta Leader baffled me last month with an editorial claiming that the Compass Card fare system is a blunder, and that it will cost TransLink.

TransLink estimates that fare evasion costs the local transit authority $7 million annually. If that’s the case, it will take TransLink close to 25 years just to break even on the Compass Card program, given the $170 million it has spent.

From the South Delta Leader – [LINK]

An even more baffling letter appeared in today’s issue of the Surrey Leader newspaper.

…The above figure assumes that there is no cost for money, which is unrealistic. The money invested in the project is undoubtedly borrowed by the different levels of government. Assuming a four per cent interest rate, the discounted payback period is nearly 91 years, a relatively long time to recover the cost of installing the new fare gates.

From the Surrey Leader – [LINK]

I think that this is a key misinterpretation that people are making when Compass is involved.

Adopting a smart card system had been planned for years before the SkyTrain faregates. No thanks to the likes of former B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and the media’s push on the faregates as being a tool to reduce fare evasion, I’m not surprised that many people still believe that the sole reason for the installation of faregates has to do with that. However, there are plenty of other benefits to the faregates and Compass – they just haven’t been publicized as much.

For example, the trip tracking that will be made possible with Compass Cards allows TransLink to work from solid data for the first time when optimizing bus services. No more guesswork. This generates benefits because bus service is better allocated to bring more reliable service to customers, which can increase ridership while lowering costs.

Shorter payment times will also significantly improve reliability on buses, as I explored in my earlier write-up on the matter: [CLICK HERE]

As early as 2010, there were editorials written slamming TransLink for “not having a business case” for installing faregates and Compass. But, a business case was indeed developed, all the way back in 2009. You can view it by searching the document library on TransLink’s website or at this link: [CLICK HERE]

A 15 year net present value analysis, as part of the business case for the Compass smart card system and the SkyTrain faregates.
A 15 year net present value analysis, as part of the business case for the Compass smart card system and the SkyTrain faregates. Apparently, the projected benefits in this chart are only partial: they do not include not include future revenue through commercial arrangements nor the cash flow benefits due to the new card process.

Also, with $70 million of the funding for the Compass and Faregates system coming from senior levels of government, a business case would be a requirement for the project to have gone forward at all.

With no business case or a poor business case, this project would not exist. It would have never gone through the TransLink scrutiny and auditing imposed by the same provincial government that wanted to make this system a reality.

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

REALITY CHECK: Lack of cash-fare SkyTrain transfers does NOT double transit fees

REALITY CHECK: Lack of cash-fare SkyTrain transfers does NOT double transit fees
A working compass card reader on a TransLink bus. Photo: CC-BY-NC-ND · Steve ·
A working compass card reader on a TransLink bus. Photo: CC-BY-SA-NC Flickr – · Steve ·

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may have seen my articles last night on the TransLink bashing as a result of the decision to not accomodate for cash-fare transfers to SkyTrain in the new Compass fare payment system. I though it would be only prudent to correct the large amount of misinformation that’s out there regarding the issue of what has been perceived as “double transit fees”.

Information is fully sourced, and links to sources are added where accuracy may be unclear to readers.

1. This affects every rider who transfers from bus-to-SkyTrain.

False. The limitation affects only riders who pay by cash when obtaining a traditional bus ticket. The TransLink media statement on this issue states that an estimated 6000 riders presently arrange to pay cash when obtaining a bus ticket and use that ticket on the SkyTrain. Other riders use FareSavers or monthly passes (or will use the Compass Card in the future).

2. The lack of bus-to-SkyTrain transfers will always double fees for the estimated 6,000 daily riders affected.

The ‘6000’ number on TransLink’s media statement describes the estimated number of riders who PRESENTLY arrange to pay bus fare by cash fare and then use that ticket transfer onto SkyTrain. This does not mean that there will be 6,000 riders paying double transit fees, or that TransLink stands to gain about $6 million in extra revenue a year as a result as some have said.

No matter whether the number is 6,000 or not, It is likely that many of these people will approach the solution that TransLink has given:

TransLink has stated constantly, including in their official media release, that this only applies for those who pay cash for a traditional bus ticket and then want to ride the SkyTrain. This does not apply to those who have obtained a Compass Card – which the majority of the region is expected to use – to pay fares. Those who use the Compass Card can transfer without double fees, and will also get discounts if they “store value” onto the card (i.e. load money onto the card before boarding transit).

A Compass Card can be obtained for a one-time $6 deposit at many locations, including on-the-spot at Compass vending machines around the metro. This $6 deposit is repaid over time, as fares paid by stored money on the Compass Card are discounted over usual cash fares.

3. Low-income and homeless will be affected by this decision.

Low-income and homeless people who may have trouble obtaining and making regular use of the fare-card transit system would certainly be affected by this if nothing else is changed, as the Compass card does require some level of computer access for those not near a Compass vending machine and also may involve bank transaction fees.

However, there have been proposals to address transit issues for the homeless and low income. TransLink spokespersons have previously (before this issue came up) stated to the media that they are aware of how the introduction of Compass affects low-income individuals, and are working on strategies to address this (The Globe and Mail)

4. This will affect how tourists use the Metro Vancouver transit system.

Commenters have expressed concern about how this affects tourist use of the Metro Vancouver transit system, because it is alleged that tourists would pay more due to the transfers and may be discouraged from using the system.

However, tourists will be able to obtain compass cards or tickets for their use during their stay. This is stated in the Compass Card F.A.Q.: Compass cards or tickets are vended at the 420 new ticket vending machines located at stations and strategic points around the system, including the YVR-Airport Canada Line SkyTrain Station (as with all SkyTrain stations) and at BC Ferries Terminals. These vending machines vend compass cards for adults only, but do vend compass tickets for both adults and children (concession fare) which can be used as day passes.

Websites and resources on Vancouver tourism are likely to update themselves to contain info on how to obtain and use a Compass Card, in the same way as they provide information to a tourist in Tokyo, Japan for obtaining and using a “Suica” or “PASMO” card.

5. The compass card system offers absolutely no flexibility for students and others who have no credit card or online payment methods

Some commenters have been worried that students and those who have no credit card (therefore cannot use Compass) will be restricted to double fees for bus -> SkyTrain trips as a result of this. This is the result of a misinterpretation of how money is spent via Compass. Compass cards have a number of payment options: loading and reloading Compass Cards at:

  • 1 of 420 Compass vending machines (cash, debit, credit)
  • Online (debit/credit/etc)
  • By phone
  • Walk-in centres at Stadium/Chinatown Station, the Metrotown FareDealer office or at the downtown West Coast Express office

Students who do not have a credit card can still use Compass and pay by cash at a Compasss vending machine, if a payment arrangement through a parent or guardian is not possible. Since payment is by preload, a student can arrange to pre-load a significant amount of cash (amounting to single fares, day passes or monthly passes) initially for future use at any time later, and not have to come back to a TVM constantly. Other payment options will not be restricted to credit.

6. The tracking feature of Compass Cards could compromise your personal security.

Some commenters who wish to opt-out of the Compass Card program for reasons of the fact that each card is being tracked by TransLink during use do have reasons to be concerned by the reality of double fees for transfers. However, TransLink has explained on their F.A.Q. page that they cannot track any particular individuals, as no personal information is encoded onto the card. The electronic chip on a compass card carries only a unique card number and the fare product or value stored onto the card. Therefore, it is not possible to compromise your personal security. In other words, you’re anonymous and so is everyone else.

7. This is another TransLink “cash grab”

This was addressed above. The allegations that this is another TransLink “cash grab” move came from the number crunching that lead many to believe that TransLink stands to gain about $6 to $10.5 million in extra revenue per year as a result of double fees (This calculation comes from how much each of the 6,000 daily riders who pay cash fare on the bus and then transfer to SkyTrain pay a year) However, as it was stated, the ‘6000’ number describes the estimated number of riders who PRESENTLY arrange to pay bus fare by coin and then transfer onto SkyTrain – not the amount of people who WILL end up being inconvenienced.

In fact, if all of the estimated 6,000 people presently arranging to use cash-fare SkyTrain transfers were to obtain Compass Cards (therefore avoiding the double fees), TransLink would LOSE significant fare revenue – as each one of those 6,000 people qualifies for potential 15% discounts if they pre-store their fares on their Compass before use.

8. The Compass system could have been configured to get around this from the very start

A few people have claimed that the Compass system could have been configured to get around this from the very start. One commenter on the Georgia Straight comments:

When they ordered the new gate system, they could have specified to the contractor to provide a reader system that was compatible with the existing reader/writer system. It wouldn’t have cost anymore because the old reader system is already in existence and it would have been simply a matter of interfacing with the new gate system.

Another top commenter on the petition page says:

While I understand that upgrading all the buses to hand out Compass-card compatible tickets is cost-prohibitive, how difficult and expensive could it be to equip *one* gate at each station (preferably the handicap gate) with a reader that can take the existing bus transfers?

However, these would come with complications and costs of their own.

Compass equipment is expected to completely replace older equipment in time. The first suggestion suggests using the old technology with fare-gates. However, that would reduce the cost effectiveness of the entire project, because it removes the benefits that are brought by Compass’s particular technologies. Utilizing fare-gates with the traditional system would not allow for cash to be stored in the cards, saving significant paper waste generated by the existing paper passes as they are not reusable (saving paper waste is a significant value of the Compass project). As well, it would exclude the possibilities with NFC (near-field communication) technology; for example, NFC taps could potentially enable smartphones to tap on and off rather than cards; NFC could allow the cards to be used at vending machines and stores, as is done in Tokyo, Japan; and, most importantly, NFC results in the trip tracking that will be a key benefit to Compass in that the tracking of all transit trips ensures that service changes are based of data rather than speculations for the first time. This represents a significant portion of the value of the Compass system, is not possible through the current technology.

The second suggestion would also incur significant extra costs, for several reasons. For one, equipping only one gate would not be possible as tampering with a single gate would remove the alternate option. Secondly, riders exiting the SkyTrain station cannot “tap out” with a traditional fare ticket in the same manner as all other SkyTrain riders carrying NFC-enabled cards or tickets, leaving another issue to address. It would also create complications at the busiest stations as people scramble to find the correct gate to use, and may need to walk across an oncoming crowd to reach that special gate. From a logistics perspective, it’s not ideal.

Other suggestions have pitted having a separate machine at SkyTrain stations to take old paper transfers and exchange them for a Compass-compatible card. However, that would still have a cost: according to TransLink spokesperson Derek Zebel in a recent article on 24 Hrs, installing machines at SkyTrain stations that would take old paper transfers and exchange them for a Compass-compatible card would have cost at least $9 million.

9. The creator and supporters of this petition have legitimate personal reasons to complain and stand to be actually inconvenienced by this.

If there is anything suggested by the response on the petition page and on Twitter, it’s that the supporters of this petition (and its creator) are just doing this to express hate feelings against TransLink, and do not stand to be actually inconvenienced by this.

Think about it – the people who actually stand to be inconvenienced and have legitimate reasons to complain are the low-income and the homeless, but many of these people may not have access to a computer to readily sign this online petition.

10. Anyone stands to lose money or pay fees from this at all.

If everyone made the proper arrangements such as obtaining a compass card, applying for any low-income assistance programs, or arranging to obtain a compass card upon arrival at the airport or ferries as a tourist, no one would pay double transit fees at all. That’s right. No one.

————————————————————————————————

I must state how much I admire TransLink for being able to stand through this without losing control of anyone within its organization, because it seems a lot of people aren’t willing to listen or read up first.

I would like to thank Laila Yuile for assisting me (sort of) in the creation of this. We had a debate on Twitter on the matters that applied to this issue, which gave me incentive to find the information needed to address concerns and, eventually, put this together.

I recommend people who have finished reading to also read two viewpoint articles I have released on this issue:

  1. On how this improves transit on-timeliness region-wide by encouraging the use of Compass Cards and getting people to abandon paying by coins
  2. On how this is yet another example of TransLink being given a no-win scenario, which affects our transit future

And feel free to contact me if I have missed anything.

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

REALITY CHECK: Lack of cash-fare SkyTrain transfers does NOT double transit fees

REALITY CHECK: Lack of cash-fare SkyTrain transfers does NOT double transit fees
A working compass card reader on a TransLink bus. Photo: CC-BY-NC-ND · Steve ·
A working compass card reader on a TransLink bus. Photo: CC-BY-SA-NC Flickr – · Steve ·

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may have seen my articles last night on the TransLink bashing as a result of the decision to not accomodate for cash-fare transfers to SkyTrain in the new Compass fare payment system. I though it would be only prudent to correct the large amount of misinformation that’s out there regarding the issue of what has been perceived as “double transit fees”.

Information is fully sourced, and links to sources are added where accuracy may be unclear to readers.

1. This affects every rider who transfers from bus-to-SkyTrain.

False. The limitation affects only riders who pay by cash when obtaining a traditional bus ticket. The TransLink media statement on this issue states that an estimated 6000 riders presently arrange to pay cash when obtaining a bus ticket and use that ticket on the SkyTrain. Other riders use FareSavers or monthly passes (or will use the Compass Card in the future).

2. The lack of bus-to-SkyTrain transfers will always double fees for the estimated 6,000 daily riders affected.

The ‘6000’ number on TransLink’s media statement describes the estimated number of riders who PRESENTLY arrange to pay bus fare by cash fare and then use that ticket transfer onto SkyTrain. This does not mean that there will be 6,000 riders paying double transit fees, or that TransLink stands to gain about $6 million in extra revenue a year as a result as some have said.

No matter whether the number is 6,000 or not, It is likely that many of these people will approach the solution that TransLink has given:

TransLink has stated constantly, including in their official media release, that this only applies for those who pay cash for a traditional bus ticket and then want to ride the SkyTrain. This does not apply to those who have obtained a Compass Card – which the majority of the region is expected to use – to pay fares. Those who use the Compass Card can transfer without double fees, and will also get discounts if they “store value” onto the card (i.e. load money onto the card before boarding transit).

A Compass Card can be obtained for a one-time $6 deposit at many locations, including on-the-spot at Compass vending machines around the metro. This $6 deposit is repaid over time, as fares paid by stored money on the Compass Card are discounted over usual cash fares.

3. Low-income and homeless will be affected by this decision.

Low-income and homeless people who may have trouble obtaining and making regular use of the fare-card transit system would certainly be affected by this if nothing else is changed, as the Compass card does require some level of computer access for those not near a Compass vending machine and also may involve bank transaction fees.

However, there have been proposals to address transit issues for the homeless and low income. TransLink spokespersons have previously (before this issue came up) stated to the media that they are aware of how the introduction of Compass affects low-income individuals, and are working on strategies to address this (The Globe and Mail)

4. This will affect how tourists use the Metro Vancouver transit system.

Commenters have expressed concern about how this affects tourist use of the Metro Vancouver transit system, because it is alleged that tourists would pay more due to the transfers and may be discouraged from using the system.

However, tourists will be able to obtain compass cards or tickets for their use during their stay. This is stated in the Compass Card F.A.Q.: Compass cards or tickets are vended at the 420 new ticket vending machines located at stations and strategic points around the system, including the YVR-Airport Canada Line SkyTrain Station (as with all SkyTrain stations) and at BC Ferries Terminals. These vending machines vend compass cards for adults only, but do vend compass tickets for both adults and children (concession fare) which can be used as day passes.

Websites and resources on Vancouver tourism are likely to update themselves to contain info on how to obtain and use a Compass Card, in the same way as they provide information to a tourist in Tokyo, Japan for obtaining and using a “Suica” or “PASMO” card.

5. The compass card system offers absolutely no flexibility for students and others who have no credit card or online payment methods

Some commenters have been worried that students and those who have no credit card (therefore cannot use Compass) will be restricted to double fees for bus -> SkyTrain trips as a result of this. This is the result of a misinterpretation of how money is spent via Compass. Compass cards have a number of payment options: loading and reloading Compass Cards at:

  • 1 of 420 Compass vending machines (cash, debit, credit)
  • Online (debit/credit/etc)
  • By phone
  • Walk-in centres at Stadium/Chinatown Station, the Metrotown FareDealer office or at the downtown West Coast Express office

Students who do not have a credit card can still use Compass and pay by cash at a Compasss vending machine, if a payment arrangement through a parent or guardian is not possible. Since payment is by preload, a student can arrange to pre-load a significant amount of cash (amounting to single fares, day passes or monthly passes) initially for future use at any time later, and not have to come back to a TVM constantly. Other payment options will not be restricted to credit.

6. The tracking feature of Compass Cards could compromise your personal security.

Some commenters who wish to opt-out of the Compass Card program for reasons of the fact that each card is being tracked by TransLink during use do have reasons to be concerned by the reality of double fees for transfers. However, TransLink has explained on their F.A.Q. page that they cannot track any particular individuals, as no personal information is encoded onto the card. The electronic chip on a compass card carries only a unique card number and the fare product or value stored onto the card. Therefore, it is not possible to compromise your personal security. In other words, you’re anonymous and so is everyone else.

7. This is another TransLink “cash grab”

This was addressed above. The allegations that this is another TransLink “cash grab” move came from the number crunching that lead many to believe that TransLink stands to gain about $6 to $10.5 million in extra revenue per year as a result of double fees (This calculation comes from how much each of the 6,000 daily riders who pay cash fare on the bus and then transfer to SkyTrain pay a year) However, as it was stated, the ‘6000’ number describes the estimated number of riders who PRESENTLY arrange to pay bus fare by coin and then transfer onto SkyTrain – not the amount of people who WILL end up being inconvenienced.

In fact, if all of the estimated 6,000 people presently arranging to use cash-fare SkyTrain transfers were to obtain Compass Cards (therefore avoiding the double fees), TransLink would LOSE significant fare revenue – as each one of those 6,000 people qualifies for potential 15% discounts if they pre-store their fares on their Compass before use.

8. The Compass system could have been configured to get around this from the very start

A few people have claimed that the Compass system could have been configured to get around this from the very start. One commenter on the Georgia Straight comments:

When they ordered the new gate system, they could have specified to the contractor to provide a reader system that was compatible with the existing reader/writer system. It wouldn’t have cost anymore because the old reader system is already in existence and it would have been simply a matter of interfacing with the new gate system.

Another top commenter on the petition page says:

While I understand that upgrading all the buses to hand out Compass-card compatible tickets is cost-prohibitive, how difficult and expensive could it be to equip *one* gate at each station (preferably the handicap gate) with a reader that can take the existing bus transfers?

However, these would come with complications and costs of their own.

Compass equipment is expected to completely replace older equipment in time. The first suggestion suggests using the old technology with fare-gates. However, that would reduce the cost effectiveness of the entire project, because it removes the benefits that are brought by Compass’s particular technologies. Utilizing fare-gates with the traditional system would not allow for cash to be stored in the cards, saving significant paper waste generated by the existing paper passes as they are not reusable (saving paper waste is a significant value of the Compass project). As well, it would exclude the possibilities with NFC (near-field communication) technology; for example, NFC taps could potentially enable smartphones to tap on and off rather than cards; NFC could allow the cards to be used at vending machines and stores, as is done in Tokyo, Japan; and, most importantly, NFC results in the trip tracking that will be a key benefit to Compass in that the tracking of all transit trips ensures that service changes are based of data rather than speculations for the first time. This represents a significant portion of the value of the Compass system, is not possible through the current technology.

The second suggestion would also incur significant extra costs, for several reasons. For one, equipping only one gate would not be possible as tampering with a single gate would remove the alternate option. Secondly, riders exiting the SkyTrain station cannot “tap out” with a traditional fare ticket in the same manner as all other SkyTrain riders carrying NFC-enabled cards or tickets, leaving another issue to address. It would also create complications at the busiest stations as people scramble to find the correct gate to use, and may need to walk across an oncoming crowd to reach that special gate. From a logistics perspective, it’s not ideal.

Other suggestions have pitted having a separate machine at SkyTrain stations to take old paper transfers and exchange them for a Compass-compatible card. However, that would still have a cost: according to TransLink spokesperson Derek Zebel in a recent article on 24 Hrs, installing machines at SkyTrain stations that would take old paper transfers and exchange them for a Compass-compatible card would have cost at least $9 million.

9. The creator and supporters of this petition have legitimate personal reasons to complain and stand to be actually inconvenienced by this.

If there is anything suggested by the response on the petition page and on Twitter, it’s that the supporters of this petition (and its creator) are just doing this to express hate feelings against TransLink, and do not stand to be actually inconvenienced by this.

Think about it – the people who actually stand to be inconvenienced and have legitimate reasons to complain are the low-income and the homeless, but many of these people may not have access to a computer to readily sign this online petition.

10. Anyone stands to lose money or pay fees from this at all.

If everyone made the proper arrangements such as obtaining a compass card, applying for any low-income assistance programs, or arranging to obtain a compass card upon arrival at the airport or ferries as a tourist, no one would pay double transit fees at all. That’s right. No one.

————————————————————————————————

I must state how much I admire TransLink for being able to stand through this without losing control of anyone within its organization, because it seems a lot of people aren’t willing to listen or read up first.

I would like to thank Laila Yuile for assisting me (sort of) in the creation of this. We had a debate on Twitter on the matters that applied to this issue, which gave me incentive to find the information needed to address concerns and, eventually, put this together.

I recommend people who have finished reading to also read two viewpoint articles I have released on this issue:

  1. On how this improves transit on-timeliness region-wide by encouraging the use of Compass Cards and getting people to abandon paying by coins
  2. On how this is yet another example of TransLink being given a no-win scenario, which affects our transit future

And feel free to contact me if I have missed anything.

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.

No cash-fare transfers to SkyTrain is good for all riders

No cash-fare transfers to SkyTrain is good for all riders
A working compass card reader on a TransLink bus. Photo: CC-BY-NC-ND · Steve ·
A working compass card reader on a TransLink bus. Photo: CC-BY-SA-NC Flickr – · Steve ·

I did a double-faceplant earlier today in disappointment when I witnessed a number of online, radio and TV news articles pointing fingers at TransLink for not ensuring cash-fare bus to SkyTrain transfers on the new Compass and faregate system.

It’s not the first time I’ve been upended by media sensationalism, and I have a feeling that it sadly won’t be the last.

As a daily transit rider, and probably like many other daily transit riders, I have a vendetta aimed at those who enter buses and have to pay with coin fare. In fact, numerous times while boarding buses, I have crashed into the person ahead of me as a result of the line stopping to make way for a coin payer. The sad fact about coin payers is that the process of using coins and (usually) making sure every coin is properly counted in the farebox slows everyone down. Coin payers, especially where there are large amounts in one setting, are probably responsible for 90% of the transit delays I have experienced.

(It only gets worse – numerous times, fares are a few cents short and incorrect, which cause delay as either the rider must then take out the extra, missing fare – either that or the driver still needs to take some time to press a button on the console to issue a ticket despite the loss, in order to keep the lineup moving).

A TransLink farebox. On the right is the coin slot that I dread so much.
A TransLink farebox. On the right is the coin slot that I dread the use of so much. Photo: CC-BY-SA Oran Viriyincy

I personally welcome the scrapping of cash fare bus-SkyTrain transfers, because it’s going to encourage people to obtain compass cards and abandon paying with coins – which will make the transit system region-wide significantly faster and more reliable for all riders. That’s right – if you live on a well used but rather unreliable bus route, buses will finally come on time for you.

On the 24hrs Vancouver article on this matter, a poll shows that over 6,000 surveyed still use cash to pay for bus rides. That’s the equivalent to up to 6000 less bus transit delay incidents. It’s as simple as obtaining a Compass Card.

The Compass Card system means that almost every rider now makes the better choices (i.e. if you got off at a SkyTrain station and need a new bus fare, you pay at a SkyTrain ticket machine to speed up boarding the bus for everyone) that only some riders make in today’s system to benefit other riders. And then, there are other system-wide benefits from the data collection.

A Compass Card, for just a $6 one-time deposit, will do that and so much more to improve our transit system – and, most importantly, it will continue to give riders the option of transferring from bus to SkyTrain without paying extra fare. TransLink estimates that up to 6,000 riders could be inconvenienced with double fares, but that number could drop significantly if most of those people just bought the darned Compass Cards. <6,000 is certainly not worth a $25 million subsidy from taxpayers to allow the transfers.

I am saddened by the amount of people who are complaining as if the option to not pay extra fare from bus to SkyTrain is gone forever, and just don’t understand.

You need to get this card. Seriously. It's like magic... in a card!
You need to get this card. Seriously. It’s like magic… in a card!

22, KPU Geography, J-POP enthusiast. Founding director of SkyTrain for Surrey.